I have some details of the Law Society v Legal Services Commission judicial review judgment. Can’t reveal my source but they were close to the action. [edited 01/10/2010 – some corrections]
The JR was won on the issue of the significance given to panel memberships and the notification of that significance only. The wider argument on the equality duty and a failure to undertake a sufficient impact assessment wasn’t decided upon.
The LSC had raised delay as an issue, arguing that the publication of the criteria was the relevant point. The Court found that the proper date was the release of the results, but if that were wrong, they would have granted the Law Society an extension of time on grounds of wider public interest. The basis for the finding on the relevant date was that neither the LSC nor the Law Society were in possession of the relevant facts – the impact of the selection criteria – until the results were known. It is less clear if individual firms could rely on this principle, or whether they may be stuck with publication of the criteria as relevant date, given that their challenge would not be on a broad public interest basis like the Law Soc.
(Contrast with Collins J’s approach to the delay argument in the preliminary hearing of the CLP JR on firms being entitled to expect that contract awards would be handled with consideration of quality and some exercise of discretion. Perhaps not an argument one would want to test to full hearing…)
Law Soc got costs and Claimant. Interveners bore their own.
The decision was that the family law tender – including the family/housing combo – was unlawful. Details of remedy not clear, but the broad agreement was that current family contracts will continue until X. Where X is truly unknown.
LSC given permission to appeal.
This freeze apparently includes current housing contracts for those who bid for family/housing combos. BUT the new SWL contracts will go ahead (after the months delay).
So, as far as I can tell, this means that some people will be doing housing under the new SWL contracts, with matter starts based on the LSC’s revised procurement area figures, while others will be doing housing under the old contract – as extended – with, I take it, the same matter start allocation as before. I get the strong suspicion the figures won’t add up.
Those firms who lost out in SWL are still out, but I wonder what happens to anyone who was doing family and housing but made an unsuccessful SWL bid ?
And the poor firms in family who were taking on new staff and premises as a requirement for their expanded matter starts. That has yet to play itself out. Quite possibly in the courts.
It will all end in tears. Again.
Law Gazette report
Solicitors Journal report